Muse Party Blogfest, and A Change of Mind book launch!

Happy Memorial Day!
A couple things for everyone today! The awesome Nick Wilford has a book being released today, and Sarah is hosting the Muse Party Blogfest! But first, your pirate fact of the week:
The Confederate army enlisted Privateers (aka Pirates!) to help bring down the North. Jefferson Davis issued a proclamation inviting, "all those who may desire, by service in private-armed vessels on the high seas, to aid this Government in resisting [Northern] aggression, to make application for commissions or letters of marque and reprisal to be issued under the seal of these Confederate States." And they came, and they did conquer some Northern ships!  -- information from Pirates: A Worldwide Illustrated History 

Nick Wilford has a book coming out today!

Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Speculative fiction

Format: Ebook only

Would you change something about your personality if you had the chance? Reuben Timsbury is ready to say yes to that question, but what is the cost? Read A Change of Mind and Other Stories to find out. This collection of dark, speculative fiction contains a novella and five accompanying stories. The pieces include four previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine. 

It's available today, at an introductory price of only $0.99. I'll be getting my copy soon - will you?

Purchase Links:

My buddy Sarah, whom I met during A-Z this year, is having a blogfest to celebrate her blog's 4 year anniversary! So please join us for the Muse Party Blogfest :)

1. Who is your muse (or character)? Tell us a little bit about him/her and why you brought them. I don't really have a muse, so I brought a character from one of my works in progress: Ringer. He is a small business owner whose life has been taken over by searching for people who have mysteriously gone missing from his antique phone shop, so he doesn't get out much. And he needs some stress relief, so I thought a party might be a good distraction!
2. What are you guys wearing? Dressing up or keeping it casual? I'm wearing skinny jeans and cute heels. Ringer is wearing khakis and a button down shirt. Couldn't get him to shave, but he actually cleans up pretty nice in that scruffy sort of way :)
3. It's a potluck! Did you bring something yummy? Of course! I brought some gluten-free hazelnut bread, and Ringer brought meat for burgers. He's... not much of a cook, but always has burger meat on hand to feed his pet raven.
4. Open bar! What are you both drinking (booze or otherwise)? Ringer'll have a G&T and I'd like a dark & stormy, please! We like ampersands.
5. Wallflowers or social butterflies? We're probably both halfway in between. Conversations with a small group over to the side of the room are best, that way you can talk about real things. Also that will allow Ringer a chance to see if you know anything helpful...
6. What song(s) will you and your muse sing for karaoke? For karaoke I'm a fan of anything from Rent. Female country singers are good too. Anti-war ballads from the 70s are more Ringer's style. Maybe some Fortunate Son as performed by CCR, or Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon?
7. What's your favorite party game? Telephone, naturally. *snicker*
8. Which one of you is more likely to end up dancing on a table top? Definitely me. Preferably sans high heels.
9. Has your muse been a good date and would you ever hang out with them again? For sure! It was fun to get him out and give him a chance to loosen up a bit. And I always love a party...



A learning sort of week

So I decided to take last week off of blogging (other than a quick foray for a Blog Blitz). I'm slowly figuring out what my work habits will look like, as well as what I want my every day life to look like. I spent last week learning, exploring my community, and planning. So for today's post, just a list of things I've figured out and learned in the last week:

  • I think I am going to try having regular posts on Mondays only, with exceptions for special events (IWSG, blog hops, book blitzes, etc). This may change if/when I do another Pick Your Plot series, but it also may not :)
  • Preparing to write requires a fair bit of research, even when writing mostly from one's imagination, so I'm going to share something interesting/cool that I learned that week. I'm a total nerd, so sharing factoids appeals to that side of me!
  • Small business owners are awesome! I had a great chat with a couple of them this week as I spent time in my community. It was also super cool to attend the Women in Business Brownbag at my local Chamber of Commerce. Neat ladies.
  • I'm going to do a writing workshop for teens at my local library in the fall. More info once we've got the details worked out, but it will be part of doing promo for the Bold New Worlds writing competition (which I am judging this year!).
  • I ran 6 miles for the first time ever on Thursday. I chose a flat course thinking that I should go easy with the terrain since it was a new and potentially difficult distance for me. MISTAKE. The flat'ness ended up being boring, which made my run more difficult despite its lack of hills. This week: a far more interesting route.
I'm researching pirates right now, so the fact of the week for you mateys is this:
The "Golden Age" of piracy was actually only 40 years long, from 1690 - 1730. Kind-of a surprise considering how much attention we give seafaring pirates, don't you think? - factoid from Pirates: Predators of the Seas
 Have you learned anything interesting lately?


IWSG - May!

Today is Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday! The first Wednesday of each month, writers pop around to one anothers' blogs to offer support, insight, high fives and hugs. This month's hosts of the hop are Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp. Good job, team :)

Last month I talked about having seen one of my favorite authors, Jacqueline Winspear, speak (you can read her blog posts here - highly recommend!). It was my first week of writing full time and her words about writer's block were exactly what I needed to hear. Not that writers block is easy to get over, but rather that we should not allow ourselves to have it because others have died for our right to freedom of speech. The concept of the privilege of writing making it an essential action hit me right in the feels. 

I took that quote to heart this month by doing my daily April A-Z post every morning. I couldn't pre-post due to the nature of the challenge I set for myself, and I loved the accountability it created. I've also been researching the business side of being an author. It was quite busy!

As I've been 'not working' (as my former coworkers seem to refer to it), I've become more and more aware of the privilege I have in being able to pursue my dream of writing. Of being an author without having to worry about having money for food or rent. This month I stumbled upon this article about how writers are often 'sponsored' by family, spouses, or wealthy patrons, thus enabling them to be creatively productive. 

I'm so incredibly thankful that my spouse can support me through this journey so I can do this without stress. But I'm also keenly aware of my time and of wanting to make sure not to waste it because I know that there are many others out there who are squeezing their writing dreams into precious snippets of time. I am privileged, yes. And also extremely grateful.

What are you grateful for this month?

A new thing in my writing life is the creation of my email list! Subscribe now to receive a FREE copy of Percy's Armageddon: Pick Your Plot Prequel! Emails will only be on the first Friday of each month and will contain writing news and deals. No spam, I promise :)


#AtoZChallenge - Reflections

Boy it was nice to have a weekend off from blogging, wasn't it? I hope y'all enjoyed yourselves :)

So, reflections on this year's A to Z. First off, THANK YOU to everyone who voted, ever at all, but most of all those who visited multiple times throughout the month. I couldn't have done my theme without your votes, so thanks for keeping me going! If there is anyone visiting who doesn't know what I mean by voting, I encourage you to read my story quick. It was super fun!

The voting was so much fun! There were times that y'all picked options that were not what I was expecting, and thus challenged me to come up with bits of story that I hadn't really anticipated writing. Those days were both awesome and difficult, but helped me feel I was really *in* the Challenge mindspace.

But man... Staying in that mindspace for the whole month was exhausting. I knew it would be difficult but didn't really anticipate how tired I'd be by the end. It got harder and harder to visit lots of blogs to keep the voting flowing, so by the end there were only a couple regulars keeping me going (thanks so much, y'all!).

I have a present for you.

Amy sat at her dressing table, gently holding a silvery handkerchief with aged hands. She looked in her mirror at her reflection. Her face had become wrinkled, with laugh lines around her eyes and mouth. Her eyes, though showing her exhaustion and sadness, still shined brightly. But the sadness...

She raised the handkerchief to her lips and kissed it, gently.

"Hellooooo, Sugar! I was wondering when I'd hear from you! Took longer than I thought it would," Cal said, stepping out of the shadows. She was surprised to see that he did not wear his traditionally flamboyant sequined gown, but instead wore skinny jeans with holes at the knees and an oversized black leather jacket. She noted with pleasure that his shoes were bedecked with sequins.

"What do you need? As I remember, you have one wish left. And please, remember what happened the last time you asked to see someone who had passed on. That's how you ended up here."

"Yes, I know. Cal, my life here has been wonderful. I have loved, and watched a child grow, and known contentment. But my loved ones have gone. We... had a measles outbreak. I guess the power of my vaccines carried through the mirror - everyone said it must have been through magic that I survived - and my Prince and Irena have died. I cannot stay here any longer. Please, take me back through the mirror."

"Ohhh Sugar. Going back through won't take the pain away. And, I can't do that anyhow. Your body on the other side... It has... Well, it's not usable."

"I don't want to die. I just can't be here anymore. Then, Cal. Do you remember that tapestry? By the Man in White's room, when it looked as though the figures were moving? Could you put me there? It seems like such a simple life, hanging in the beautiful scenery, watching the bustle of the castle. That way I can stay in this place I have loved, but no longer feel the pain of it."

"Well, Sugar. You've always been creative. Take me there."

Amy and Cal walked slowly through the hallways. Amy told stories of her time in the Palace. Here where she had found Irena kissing a boy, there the ballroom where she and the real Prince Leo had had their first dance. When they got to the hallway on the west side of the Palace, Cal was surprised to see specks of paint still on the window.

Amy laughed, "We were never able to quite get it all off. All these years I've said hello to the Man in White every time I've passed this window. He's almost an old friend now. Please, this tapestry."

Cal nodded and kissed her on the forehead, "You've always been a brave one, Sugar. Enjoy your new life." She smiled as he snapped his fingers in front of her face.

And within a moment a small embroidered lady appeared in the tapestry. She held hands with a little girl and waved a silver handkerchief in her other hand. And waited out her days watching in the back hallway of the place where she Lived.

The End.

If you haven't already, here is the place to sign up for the Reflections bloghop!


#AtoZChallenge - stay in this biZarre place

Happy Z day everyone! If you were participating did you make it through the Challenge? If you participated in the Challenge, make sure to check out the A-Z main blog for information on how to participate in the A-Z Reflections blog hop! We love to hear folks' feedback about how the Challenge went for them, what they liked/disliked, and if you have made any friends this month :)

And here it is, the final segment of our saga.

Amy turned to Cal and took his hand, "Thank you, for everything. But, I've found a new life here that is so different from home. It's wonderous, and bizarre, and full of magic. I want to stay."

"Well if that's what you want to do, sweetcheeks. Far be it from the power of a genie to make a decision for you. But here, Sugar. If you ever need me, you just let me know." He tucked another silvery handkerchief into Amy's hand, "But try not to bleed on it next time, ok?" And with that, Cal snapped in front of his face and disappeared.

Amy turned to Irena and said, "I bet you're hungry. Shall we go find you some dinner?" Irena nodded happily and skipped down the hall. "Prince Leo, would you like to join us?"

"Yes, I believe I would. You wouldn't imagine what immensely hard work it is to stand so perfectly still," he said, and offered his arm to Amy, "and you must tell me what has happened these years. Irena has grown so much. As have you... Amy."

Amy flushed a bit and focused on walking calmly down the hall. Where do I start?, she thought, and instead said, "We will have plenty of time for that, Prince. I have had a very long day. Why don't you tell me about the tapestries as we pass?"

She glanced once more at the painted trap upon the window, and then turned her back on it, looking forward to the future.


Thank you to everyone who voted this month! It's been a pleasure writing for your whims. Keep an eye out for.. umm.. other things ;) I have a feeling this story isn't quite finished.


#AtoZChallenge - show You the way

Amy looked at him defiantly, "If you free Irena, I will show you the way."

The Man in White cackled, "And what if I won't?"

"Then I will close the door and we will both be stuck here forever. Together."

"Fine." He waved his hand and the painted sheen disappeared off Irena's face and body. She ran with arms outstretched toward Amy, but was suddenly frozen again. Amy looked at the Man in White, who was grinning. "I have changed the spell. When I leave this realm, the girl will be freed. She will remain frozen for as long as I remain in this plane. Your turn."

Amy glanced at Irena's frozen body, with its arms outstretched and a hopeful look on her face. She looked behind her and was pleased to see that the Man in White's illusion did not show the true hallway. Instead it appeared that the grand room extended quite a ways. Amy turned on her heel and walked quickly through the illusion.

By the time the Man in White stepped through after her, she had hidden herself behind the tapestry with her bucket of paint. She peeked out and watched as he noticed her painting and moved closer to inspect it. Just as he approached, she stepped out behind him and caught her reflection in the mirror, which Cal dutifully held just outside the window.

The effect was perfect! The mirror was placed just so, allowing her to create the illusion of herself leaning out from behind a pillar down the hallway. Amy beckoned to the Man in White as though to guide him down the hall and was shocked as he stepped willingly up into the painting and started toward her reflection. When he was just a few steps in, Amy pulled out her paintbrush and bucket and began furiously painting more arches and x's into the scene.

Blanco saw the walls move and realized what she was doing. He turned around and moved his hands, attempting to counteract her spell. Her lines moved obediently away from him, and Amy almost panicked. But then she thought, Bet you can't walk through walls! and with a desperate hope, Amy threw the entire bucket of paint onto the window. She willed with all the force of her might that her paint would become a solid wall.

The Man in White threw himself against her wall, and the glass of the window cracked a little, but held. He left one handprint coming through the drying paint but was unable to break through Amy's spell.

Cal popped into the room, shard of mirror in hand. He placed it gently on the upturned paint bucket and put an arm around Amy's shoulder, "Willpower triumphs over greed, eh Sugar? That was quite some spell! Well done. I'm going to go fix that cracked window, just in case."

Amy laughed as she noticed his outfit as he glided to the window and put his hand to it. Cal was wearing the most outlandish camouflage outfit she'd ever seen. A bright blue top, with green camo harem pants, and brown shoes. He'd topped it off with a hat covered in sparkling leaves. If any normal person had worn the outfit they would surely have been seen, but of course Cal was no normal person. Thankfully.

The cracks sealed themselves, leaving only an abstract white painting with the relief of a hand coming out.

"Amy? Amy look! I found Papa!" Irena's voice rang in the hallway. Amy turned and found her small charge leading a handsome man by the hand toward her.

"Ahh! Prince Leo!" Amy fumbled through a a curtsie and bow, "Glad to see you looking so well!" Leo returned her bow and released his daughter's hand.

Irena laughed and threw herself into Amy's arms, "Thank you for saving me! I had a dreadful itch on my knee that whole time. It was terrible!" She raised the hem of her skirt to show Amy where she had scratched it mercilessly upon becoming unfrozen.

"I hope it feels better, little one," Amy said, smiling and patting her head.

"Sweetcheeks," Cal said, "I hate to break up this reunion, but I need to be getting back to... other engagements. You've only got one wish left, and it looks like you'll be needing it to get back to your real life. Shall I?"

Amy thought. While this experience had been interesting, it had also been terrifying, and wonderful, and confusing. And no one would believe her story when she got 'home'. Home was also terrifying, and wonderful, and confusing.

What should Amy do?
Use a wish to return to the baZaar and her body,
or stay in this biZarre place and learn to live a new life.

That's it! Your last choice! What will it be? Will Amy stay in the Palace and learn how to live life there, or return to real life? Leave your comments below and we'll see how the story ends tomorrow!

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the ENDING to finish reading :)